exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity
Henry C. Wright
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The moment a man claims the right to control the will of a fellow by physical force, he is at heart a slaveholder.
Henry C. Wright
Editor's note: The above principle, as we shall see, Mr. Wright intends to extend to the "miserably married," the most ubiquitous "slaves" and "slaveholders" in society.
Abolitionist and pacifist Henry Clarke Wright (1797-1870) was one of William Lloyd Garrison's close associates.
Reared in central New York, Wright served an apprenticeship as a hatmaker before studying at Andover Theological Seminary.
After his ordination in 1823, he served as the pastor of the Congregational Church in West Newsbury, Massachusetts, as a lecture agent for the American Sunday School Union, and as a minister to children in Boston.
In 1835 he joined the American Anti-Slavery Society and served as one of Theordore Dwirght Weld's "seventy agents" until the executive board of the American Anti-Slavery Society removed him in 1837 because of his ultra opinions.
About the same time he gave up his lecturing agency in the American Peace Society, which was also discomfitted by his radicalism, and in 1838 helped found the New England Non-Resistance Society.
Nonresistance, the foundation of Wright's reform philosophy, proclaimed the sovereignty of individual conscience and opposed to all forms of coercion, violence, and the dominion of person over person.
In practice, Wright condoned violent resistance to slavery, though he personally eschewed violence. From 1842 to 1847 he traveled in Europe, lecturing on nonresistance and abolitionism. His avowal of anti-sabbatarian views in Scotland and his accusations (later retracted) that Free Churchmen were "drunkards" made George Thompson, James Buffum, and Frederick Douglass wary of him.
Wright later turned to spiritualism and helped organize the Universal Peace Union in 1867.
He died in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Editor’s note: Below, I present to you excerpts from Henry C. Wright's Marriage And Parentage, plus my own Editor’s notes. Wright was an abolitionist, but also a notable spiritual writer of his day. I consider him, along with Andrew Jackson Davis, to be among the best teachers regarding spiritual love and romance. My encouragement would be to read these excerpts slowly, carefully considering the implications. In my opinion, Wright offers some of the best discussion regarding how Twin Soul lovers are given to each other as a revelation of God.
Marriage and Parentage
Henry C. Wright
salvation - a messiah, each to the other
What Shall We Do To Be Saved? The past has given one answer to this question; the future will give another. I will endeavor to anticipate the answer which the future of this world will give to this important question. What can we do to raise the entire human being to the highest point of perfection which it is capable of attaining?
We live for the race, in all coming time. We cannot live only for ourselves, or for the present state, nation, or age. The principles we adopt, and the practices we pursue, must bear on the race, for good or evil, while man exists. There is no isolation for an individual man or woman. Our nature identifies our existence and happiness with that of the human family…
The male organism, including body and soul, is adapted to elaborate, secrete and impart the primary element, or germ, of a new being; the female is adapted to receive, nourish and develop that germ into a living human form.
Man, by himself, is powerless; so is woman; but, united, both are perfected, and alike potent…
Two great principles pervade universal being, so far as it is subject to human scrutiny — the Masculine and the Feminine. The blending of these two elements constitutes the creative power of the universe...
each reveals God to the other
A woman is the female element of the Divine Being manifested in human form; a man is the masculine element of the same being, thus manifested. The perfect combination of these two makes the true God visible and tangible, so far as he can be.
The more perfect the oneness of the husband and wife, the more like God. That which constitutes the distinction between male and female, and divides all animals and vegetables into two classes, is also the bond that binds all things together, that gives to every being a companion, leaving nothing to solitude and isolation. It is the harmonizing principle of the universe, to bring each man and woman into harmony with self and with God. If the relation in which we originate be unnatural and inharmonious, the offspring must be at war with itself and with all around. Discord would be its birthright inheritance.
What is the reason for falling in love?
They are two: (1) the continuation of the race, and (2) its perfection. That the perpetuation of the race is one great object, needs no argument to prove… How it may be made to conduce to the perfection of our nature or to its degradation, will in due time be fully considered. To this I shall call special attention.
The question naturally arises, What is it that makes man a man, and woman a woman? Can any one attribute be pointed out that constitutes the dividing line? Whatever it be, it is that which gives to man a power over woman, and to woman a power over man, which neither has over their own sex. Man is attracted to woman as he is not to man, and woman is attracted to man as she is not to woman. The fact exists, as every man and woman knows by experience. The feeling is different; its effects are different, on the entire being; and this difference extends to every department of life.
Wherever, and under whatever circumstances, the sexes meet, a different spirit pervades the heart of each, and a different tone and air are manifest in their deportment, from that which is felt and witnessed when man meets man, or woman meets woman. This difference cannot be the result of an educational process, for it appears in all classes and conditions of society.
men hit each other to say hello
The world over, where men are associated, and the female element is entirely excluded, there a degenerating process goes on; roughness and brutality of manner ensue, and depravity of heart .
Men degenerate in every particular, when left for a long time without the refining and elevating influence of females. If the character of the latter be such as to make their influence bad, the degradation becomes complete.
A woman, whether her influence be for good or evil, always has more control over men than man has. So with man in regard to woman. The reciprocal influence of the sexes must be direct and powerful, and one of life unto life or of death unto death to each. That which marks the distinction of sex is not only the secret of the great power each has over the other, but it is, also, the unseen, yet ever-present bond which binds them together. It constitutes the attractive force of each over the other; the power by which each attracts and is attracted to the other.
Man, as the embodiment of the masculine element, has no significance to man; nor has woman to woman, as the incarnation of the feminine element. The sexuality of each has significance only to the other. Each needs the influence and aid of the other, not only to reproduce, but also to prepare in each such healthful conditions of body and soul as they may rightly and proudly transmit to their offspring. Take away this sexual element, and a woman is no more drawn to man than she is to woman...
I have remarked, that, in the economy of Nature in the distinction of sex, the organism of each is adapted to perform the part assigned to it in the continuance and perfection of the race. To prepare the germ of a new man or woman, is the noblest function of the male; to provide it sustenance and develop it into a human form, is the most perfect work of the female…
Man and Woman define and discover themselves, in the deepest sense, only in relation to each other
I believe that each sex can alone interpret the other; therefore, leaving to thee the work of defining the mission of the masculine element of Humanity, and of showing how that may be best accomplished, I will proceed to state the nature and design of woman's mission, and how it can be most successfully fulfilled.
The question may arise, — "Has man a right to speak for woman? Can he define her mission, and point to the means of its successful completion?" I answer, that man alone has the ability and the right to explain the great object of woman's existence, and to show how she can most perfectly answer that end. The embodiment of the masculine and feminine elements has no significance, except as each answers to the wants of the other; the organization of each having no object but in reference to the wants of the other. The being who is conscious of a want can alone understand and truly estimate the nature and value of that which is essential to its supply. Man needs refinement, purity, elevation. In vain he looks to man for this consummation. Whatever power man may have to beautify and ennoble woman, — and over her it is almost omnipotent, as is hers over him, — he has little power over his own sex.
Woman has power to meet the holiest, deepest wants of man's soul. An instinct directs him to her to supply those wants, as another instinct directs him to food to appease hunger. He attracts her to himself in the relation of a wife.
But shortly he begins to rail against her, finding in her the bane of his life, instead of the completion of his manhood, laying all the blame upon her, and warning all men against her, as their deadliest foe. Whereas, had he looked more narrowly into his own soul, he would have found something wrong in his own conditions, which prevented the healthful and natural action of the woman's nature upon his own.
if she gives him only what he thinks he wants, she will ruin him
He whose physical and spiritual nature is prepared to receive woman, and to blend harmoniously with her, will find her the "bread of life;" but he whose nature is perverted, and whose wants are therefore unnatural, may find her a deadly poison. Man being diseased, woman cannot be to him what she was designed, and what she yearns to be; and instead of being a refining, ennobling influence, she becomes, without fault of her own, an agent of his ruin.
the woman you attract reflects your present level of consciousness
Man will find among women whatever he seeks. Whether he desires her as a means of mere sensual gratification, or as a household drudge, or as a mother and nurse for his children, or to add grace and dignity to his social position, or a sentimental dependant, to pamper his love of power, he will find among women those who will assume either of these attitudes to him.
But if he seeks her as the life-principle of his soul, to add dignity and elevation to his manhood, he will find also, in woman, the satisfaction of his purest aspirations, the noblest fulfillment of his destiny.
If he wants a wife, in all the deep and consecrated import of that word, she will come to him as the home and heaven of his manhood. Therefore, if man would know what effect woman is to have on his character and destiny, let him look well to the conditions of his own manhood, for she will bear to him, as a general rule, exactly that relation into which he has power to attract her.
"look into her eyes" and find your own true self
The mission of woman! — how beautiful, how delicate, how potent, how sublime! To reveal to man the wealth of his own spirit; to separate the pure gold of his nature from the coarse earth which surrounds it; to give repose to his restless soul; to lead him to his home and everlasting rest in Love — in God!
It is a mission of which she may well be proud. In the conscious dignity and divinity of her calling should she go forth to save; for only in her love, her purity and power, can man find his true salvation.
everything you count precious, all that she is to you, is exactly what you need! - well, what a coincidence
Woman, like God, is practically, to each man, just what he conceives her to be. Let not woman be startled at the assertion, that every element of her physical, intellectual, social and spiritual nature, demonstrates that she received her present organization for the development and perfecting of man.
George Harrison: you don't realize how much I need you
Nor let man be startled by the assertion that he is a helpless dependant on woman. His soul can no more be perfected without her vitalizing and sustaining power, than his body can without food and air. Woman was constituted with the power to beautify and perfect manhood, solely with reference to the want in him which she thus supplies, and he is a dependant on her love and power. He cannot develop and perfect himself without her.
Every man who has a soul of sufficient power, purity and tenderness to render his nature attractive to the true woman, will recognize this as a fixed fact of his interior and exterior existence. As well might the earth feel degraded by its dependence on the sun, as man by his dependence on woman…
before I knew you, I couldn't know myself
I had remained a sealed book, even to myself, had not woman, as a wife, appeared to open that seal and interpret that book…
They are made for each other, without an implied moral, intellectual or physical inferiority in either. In a true relation between the sexes, there can be no question of superiority. Mutual help and dependence will be freely offered and recognized, and harmony and true growth will result to both.
What is the instinct in woman's nature which seeks manhood? To what relation does her instinct point? These are questions that lie at the threshold.
Companionship is the first demand of the child's nature. It must love, and be loved, or its young life is crushed. In young boys and girls, there is no recognition of the distinction of sex; there is the same free, unconscious enjoyment with each other, as when each is restricted to its own sex.
that boy you had fun playing with when you were a kid - there was something more about him that you liked, wasn't there
As they grow older, the attraction of each to its counterpart becomes more decided; yet Nature, true to herself, leaves them both pure and happy, yet giving and receiving an influence peculiar to each.
Still further on, when the girl becomes the maiden, with her character more mature, her nature more positively defined, her need of sympathy and true companionship keeps pace with her development, and among her associates, her intuitions select those most in harmony with her own cast of character.
It is the relation of brother and sister into which this want of her nature leads, and it is fruitful of most beautiful results to both.
But she is not yet fully satisfied… a void unfilled, a want unsatisfied, a clamoring voice that will not be still. It comes from the very centre of her life.
your heart, lying unclaimed, in the lost-and-found
She longs to be claimed, possessed; to feel the very fibres of her heart grasped in a mighty hand; to hear the solemn assurance which shall fill her soul with rapture, "Thou art mine, for time and eternity."
From that hour of transfiguration, she walks in "robes of golden light." "I have loved, I have lived," is the unceasing music of her soul; and, borne on the mighty wings of this new life, she mounts to heights of heroism that her eye could never reach before.
For the first time, she learns the true object of her creation. All previous life, all attainments, all efforts, which have hindered or failed to aid her to this true life, are viewed as time and labor lost.
I will wait for you, no matter how long the wait
In her self-abandonment, she calmly bears reproach, poverty, pain and death, if she may but preserve in her heart the faith that her chosen one is worthy of the sacrifice. She asks only that he may be worthy, and her brave heart will face the darkest fate.
It is true, innocence is sometimes betrayed, confidence misplaced. But even when love sees its idol turned to clay, the heart is slow to believe that it is dead.
Editor's note: the woman who has experienced the energies of true love will not forget him; though he long delay his coming; though he be many years in awakening; though, as good sense and others would urge, he be given up for dead.
I believe that a true woman would rather love, even if it were rejected, than live without knowing the depths of her own heart. Bitter tears may mingle in the draught, but she knows, at last, what it is to live; and before the solemn beauty of that experience, all former life dwindles into nothingness.
Man! couldst thou but believe in the mighty power that rests in thy noble nature to save her who waits and longs to come to thee, thou wouldst rather die than do aught to mar the glory with which a woman’s love invests thee!
Such is the attitude in which Nature places the heart of the true woman towards man. Can her life be perfected without him? She may attain to great intellectual cultivation; she may, in isolation from man, extend a general benevolence which will do much good, and bring much happiness; she may, by constant activity and exertion, save herself from ennui and discontent; but she will never fully comprehend the extent or beauty of her relations to God or man, till she is regenerated…
and continue to wait, if ...
But if [he delays his coming], rather than yield to the fear of reproach, or the force of opinion, which sets so fiercely for worldly advantages, the true heart of woman will wait and wait, even though, with weary heart and far-searching eyes, she turn from one after another who may seek her love.
She will say to them,— "Pass on, pass on, I wait for my Messiah." Even if she wait until her eyes grow dim, and her unblessed brow be crowned with silver hair, — nay, even when she lies down to rest in her last sleep, her unbowed soul will still say, "I wait for my Messiah."
her fair form is but the fitting temple of her noble soul
When such is the general type of womanhood, when her fair form is but the fitting temple for her noble soul, when her earnest eyes glow with the holy light of purity, and her lips are eloquent with truth, when dignity is not a studied grace, but the unconscious expression of nobleness of soul, man will learn to honor what he cannot corrupt, he will be compelled to love what he cannot flatter.
Editor's note: this phrase, her fair form is but the fitting temple for her noble soul, is utterly beautiful! What truth it expresses! how felicitously spoken! and, as we've discussed elsewhere, answers why men desire to worship and adore the women they love.
Man should be to woman an aid to just this level of attainment. In his highly-endowed nature abides all that a woman's heart demands. She must love and honor him, and merge her life in his.
she must wait, and choose wisely, ever listening to whispering directions of her deepest soul, lest the compelling desire to find The One lead her to ruin
He must be great, and pure, and true, or this impulse of her nature will lead her to her ruin.
Man has a right to look to woman for the completion of his destiny, by her power to refine and elevate his nature, to share his intellectual life, to develop his affections in the most endearing domestic relations; woman has a right to look to man for a type of greatness which shall fill her ideal of manhood.
She expects from him a generous appreciation of her whole nature, moral, intellectual and physical, and his help in its development. She should awaken in him a wise, tender love, which seeketh not its own. She should come to him as a companion, protector, friend, and lover. When will man accept this holy mission, and be blessed?
so, what is marriage, really
What is Marriage? In what consists the relation of husband and wife… It is not in the fact that we have a license from the Church or State to live in this relation… nor in the fact that a priest or magistrate, as the mouth-piece of society, has assured us, before others, that God hath joined us together…
Nor does our marriage consist in the fact that we live together as husband and wife; for all these things are done by men and women between whom no true marriage exists. It is not in the power of Church or State, priest or magistrate, to make thee my wife; that can be done only by a power infinitely above them all.
And yet, how many, with and without a license, are living together as husband and wife, between whom there is no marriage! No human law, or license, or authority, or social custom can make that right which would otherwise be wrong, nor that wrong which would otherwise be right.
you will not know what true marriage is until the real love overwhelms you - no, it wasn't that little thing that you knew in the past
What, then, is marriage? No logical definition, of universal application, can be given, for the heart alone can truly apprehend it.
Words are nothing; marriage may express all that is good — it often stands for all that is evil. It may be the most vitalizing, improving, happy relation into which human beings can be attracted; and it is often the most debasing and blighting…
These, then, are the facts touching my relation to thee. My nature has a certain want, and the power to attract and assimilate to itself a natural and healthful supply. That want pertains to my physical, social, intellectual and spiritual nature, and it is fulfilled in thee.
A restless and ever-present longing pervaded my entire being. That restlessness has given place to absolute repose; that intense longing has found a satisfaction still more intense. My ideal of beauty, purity, truth, justice and love, I longed to see embodied; I found them so in thee, as I found them in no other being. I longed to find my highest object of love and adoration incarnate in a living, visible, tangible, actualized relation. That incarnation I found most beautifully presented in my relation to thee.
Love invests its object with light and beauty, with a holy consecration, seen and felt only by the husband.
you are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, the most beautiful in the world ... but that is not why I love you
To him, the wife is the embodiment of the feminine element, and this will seem to his loving heart to be the most exalted, most sacred and attractive attribute of the Divine nature.
She comes to him to meet his highest aspirations for true development, — as the vitalizing, consecrating power of his soul.
I knew it! I said it all along! I saw God in those bright eyes of yours! I know that I shall never be closer to God, now or in future worlds, than when I see that purity, dwelling in your eyes
Impelled by my experience, in my relation to thee, my heart renders this definition of a wife — THE MOST PERFECT AND ATTRACTIVE INCARNATION OF GOD TO THE HUSBAND. The great Invisible and Intangible is made more beautifully and attractively visible and tangible in this, than in any other relation.
Editor's note: What a powerful and majestic idea! The definition of wife and husband, each for the other, is becoming that one person who most perfectly reveals God! How beautiful! compare this with Myer's thoughts on the "image of God" and how the romantic bliss of Twin lovers pictures an ecstasy found only in the Divine realm.
In thee, Love and Wisdom are manifested in the flesh to me, as they are in no other being of the past, or of the present. I go no more, in spirit, into the regions of abject separate existence. Thought responds to thought, will to will, heart to heart. The advent of man and woman to each other, as husband and wife, is the advent of the true and natural Saviour to the soul of each.
J. H. Conant, Flashes Of Light From Spirit-Land (1872), channeled testimony from the other side:
"Woman is mentally, morally, socially, and spiritually the equal of man, we do certainly know.
"Physically, she is his inferior, and by being physically inferior to man, she is raised just so much higher in the spiritual scale, has become just so much more spiritual, just so much more intuitive, just so much in advance of man, with regard to the things of the real life."
My faith rests on the nature of the union itself. As defined by us, marriage is the actual blending of two souls, a masculine and feminine, according to natural law, each being attracted to the other by a power over which neither has control, so long as they remain within the sphere of each other's attractive force.
Editor's note: this last part means that the Small Ego, with it fears and selfishness, can temporarily cause a blindness, preventing one from sensing the Beloved.
They know not how nor why they are thus blended, since it came by no will or effort of their own. As they did not will themselves into this union, they cannot will themselves out of it…
all true lovers are convinced they have loved each other forever, and will continue to love each other for another forever - there's a reason for that
Each desires the union to be perpetual. — Of all the harmonies the universe can furnish or the mind conceive, none is so perfect, so purifying and ennobling, as that made by the blending of two souls in marriage. Its sweetness never cloys [distasteful through overabundance]; its oft-repeated strains never weary, but, the more often repeated, the more the soul of each longs for and enjoys them.
true happiness, philosophers say, is the sum of all good things - therefore, it is impossible to grow tired of perfect happiness; if we could, it wouldn't be perfect and it wouldn't be happiness; this means that you will never tire of her, that personification of all good things, everything you ever wanted; how can you tire of what, by nature, you always truly wanted
The human heart can never weary of loving and being loved; nor can it weary of the presence of the beloved object, for it is to each the visible presence of that for which each most earnestly longs, — the presence of Love, of God.
If either wishes separation, [then] there [exists] no … true marriage in the heart. Where there is true marriage, universal experience testifies that it longs for an endless perpetuity; and the very existence of this desire demonstrates to me the fact, that Nature designed the union to be perpetual. The want is natural, and Nature creates no want for which she does not create a supply…
Many years ago, having been introduced to Mere Christianity, I recall my sense of wonder regarding C.S. Lewis' insights on how things work. He would appeal to natural law, an intuitive, factory-installed perception that each human being harbors concerning definitions of time, justice, and destiny. Brilliant.
Here's an example:
"Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. ('How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up and married! I can hardly believe it!') In heaven's name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal." C. S. Lewis
Recently, I picked up his Four Loves, a discussion of the various kinds of affection. I'd read this years ago, and liked it; but, today, a little more aware, I was surprised to see that he'd strayed from natural law on a particular aspect of romantic love.
How C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite writers, got it wrong about the nature of romantic love
Notice Mr. Lewis' words (above) on how we view time. A great insight, an example of appealing to natural law. He has many examples of this in his writings; why I grew to admire his wisdom.
But in the Four Loves, when addressing aspects of romance, he abandons his winning game of referencing natural law. He speaks of erotic love as merely animal-based.
I believe I know why he stumbled here: He'd temporarily abandoned his own internal guidance system, his own judgment and intuitive sense of natural law that had made him a superstar teacher and instead had uncritically accepted traditional religion's paradigm; that of, romance as second or third class in favor of Orthodoxy's glorification of celibacy and the like. Institutional Religion, for thousands of years, has used the arena of romantic love to control people.
Henry C. Wright makes a most insightful comment, one based on natural law, that Nature designed the romantic union to be perpetual. The want is natural, and Nature creates no want for which she does not create a supply! Every true lover desires to be in love forever! It's a universal demand of the heart! And natural law suggests to us that no want exists for which a supply has not been created!
Society is full of inharmonious and most fatal alliances between men and women, under the name of marriage, — alliances as unnatural and monstrous, and as fruitful of evil, as a union between liberty and slavery, truth and falsehood, purity and impurity, — alliances in which no compromises can ever produce harmony or happiness.
How to prevent these misalliances? — This is the question. Divorce is the result of, and a supposed remedy for, unnatural and inharmonious relations between men and women, under the name of marriage…
Man mistakes the excitement of passion for conjugal love; woman mistakes vanity, ambition, a desire for a home or a social position, for the same.
They enter into intimate personal relations as husband and wife. The counterfeits of love, which precipitated them into their unnatural and inharmonious outward union, soon reveal themselves, and both find that they stand in an outward relation to each other which their souls have never sanctioned. In her ignorance and blindness, woman takes to herself what she hopes may prove the bread of life to her soul, but she finds it a deadly poison.
let the force guide you
There is but one way in which these unnatural and discordant alliances can be prevented, and divorce be forestalled. The intuitions of men and women must be more perfectly organized and developed; the sexual instinct must be refined and more delicately attuned; then would they be able to select a natural and healthful supply for that want of the soul which points man to woman as a wife, or woman to man as a husband, with as much certainty as the instinct for material food directs us to select that which is wholesome.
The [present ego-based] instinct which points men to women and women to men for a true development, is all dark, bewildered, gross; and, in its grossness and want of delicacy of perception, it points them to a relation based mainly on sensual indulgence.
Disappointment, sickness and disgust of heart, ensue; the two that fondly dreamed of oneness become antagonisms; neglect, abuse, outrage, follow, and civil government is asked to come in and cut the outward bond, and save them from the effects of their ignorance and passion.
Had that deepest, noblest and most potential instinct of the soul been truly, delicately and nobly formed and directed, had it been so enlightened and refined that it would have guided the soul to select for itself the true element of conjugal life, it would have elevated to heaven, instead of casting down to perdition.
In such a relation, divorce has no place, no significance. It belongs only to unnatural conditions and false relations between the sexes. Under the guidance of an enlightened, refined sexual instinct, the only power that can bring the two elements into true and vitalizing relations, where marriage is but another name for love, for harmony and perfect trust between two souls…
Meanwhile, the truth will stand, that marriage, like the pulsations of the heart and the contractions of the lungs, is the work of Nature. There is a power that brings a man and woman into this relation. When this power ceases to act, to make the two One, marriage ceases, as an experience of the soul; and where there is no union of soul, there is no marriage, and all outward conjugal relations should cease.
[What are men and women to do when, often due to immaturity, they find that they have made a mistake? find themselves in marriages that prove to be ill-conceived?] Can the wife, who loved in him the embodiment of all high and holy qualities, which he once was, still love the man, who, in all respects, fails to meet the ideal that first won her maiden heart? The man she loved is changed [in her heart]; he is no more. Her ideal is not changed, but the man to whom she gave herself as a wife has ceased to embody that ideal. Reason and Nature answer, at once, and say, "She cannot love him as she did!" But, without this love, is she, before God, his wife? By all that is sacred, she is not!
The man in whom her soul found embodied its ideal of purity, nobleness, and manhood, has become a loathsome sensualist. The man has made himself repulsive to her wifely heart; by his sensualism, he has separated himself from her soul of conjugal love, as the sinner, by his sins, has separated himself from his God.
She may pity him, and weep over him, but she cannot love him and come to him as a wife. Love cannot attract her heart to that which is not lovely, and he is so no longer.
Now, what shall she do? Is her body to belong to the man who has no power to retain her affection? Not for one moment! She is not his wife by love, only by law and outward form; and the [continued] surrender of her person is but legalized prostitution, frowned upon by a just and holy God.
Come what may, when love ceases between those who have been pronounced husband and wife, let the outward expression cease. Where a deep, holy, conjugal love does not unite the souls of a man and woman, however strong the demands of passion, let there be no surrender of the person, for the unhallowed purpose of mere sensual gratification.
Let every woman be fixed, as God is, never to live with a man, as a wife, whom she does not love; let every man be equally true to the voices of his nature, and an untold amount of misery would be saved to both.
The rock on which so many fond hopes are dashed, the one fatal error which is so fruitful in direful results to many bewildered, but trusting hearts, is, that men and women commence living in the outward relations of husband and wife, and become parents, in utter ignorance of each other, of their own wants, as male and female, and of the only basis of a true conjugal relation, and regardless of that corresponding attraction and union of heart, without which, the outward personal surrender is an outrage to body and soul, that must, as a general rule, end in disease and wretchedness to all who thus live, and to their offspring.
Would that parents might study to guard their sons and daughters against the possibility of mistaking passion, or friendship, or a desire for a home, for wealth, social position, or any other feeling, for conjugal love! Let them attend to the organization and true development of the sexual instinct…
But, if there are children, what must the parents do? Live together, as friends, who have in those children, on whom they have entailed existence without love, a mutual care and responsibility. Be to them parents, in the deepest and widest sense possible. Give them every attention and advantage which they have a right to claim from the authors of their being ; and in order to do this, keep your own souls free from degradation, by a firm, unwavering fidelity to the highest impulses of your nature. Cease to be a wife, in external relations, to the man thou dost not love, but be a mother to the child for whose existence thou art responsible; cease to be a husband to the woman thou dost not love, but ever be a father to the child who has derived its being from thee.
Whatever demonstrates the cessation or absence of love between a man and woman, proves that the relation of husband and wife never existed... There are many other proofs, less censured by human laws and customs, on which a true man or woman must rely, and by which they must govern their relations.
Editor's note: The only marriage recognized by heaven is the 'marriage of spirits' - if you have it - possible with one particular person only - you can't lose it; if you don't have it, with the one you're with, you can't get it; you are married to that particular one of soul affinity, whether in his absence or presence, and nothing will change this.
Where [true] conjugal love exists between a man and woman, there is marriage. Though external surroundings may prevent the public recognition of it, yet, before God, those two souls are one - are husband and wife - as truly as if they openly lived in that relation.
There is but one true cause of divorce from the inner or outward marriage relation, and that is, The Absence Of Love.
But, to a true marriage, whose conditions are faithfully sustained, there will come no divorce… [which is impossible, as the binding soul-energies are unfailing.]
Suppose two are [merely legally] married, under this impression, who think they love each other. As time rolls on, and each matures and develops, they diverge in sympathy; and perhaps the husband or the wife may be so constituted by nature, that the deepest wants of the heart cannot be met by the other. Without abuse or outrage, love yields its place to friendship, respect, and kind feeling. If this takes place in the wife, her nature will not demand the personal endearments of marriage. She will promptly say to her husband, that such expressions belong to love, not to friendship; that they are disagreeable to her, and that only by restraining them can either be saved from degradation.
John demands: 'how could you think of leaving me and be so unkind? don't you care about me?' as usual, he considers only himself... Mary must say to him, 'how could you require me to stay, and suffer, for years to come, in a loveless marriage? don't you care about me?'
He tells her that she is wrong; that when she married, she gave herself to be his lawful, wedded wife, and that his nature demands the gratification of all its wants; that he has a right to such gratification, and her scruples are only foolish nonsense, which should not weigh against his wishes; that they are useless obstacles in the way of his enjoyment; and that the world would agree with him, that his demand was no more than just.
To such arguments the wife generally yields; not willingly, but by compulsion, for where is her refuge? She applies to her protector for protection against himself, — but in vain. It were well if every husband realized that in thus removing "obstacles," he has planted an element ruinous to himself. He has taken the first step towards turning respect into contempt, friendship into hatred, and liking into loathing.
If women dared to give their experience on this matter, as they one day will, they would agree with this statement. From the hour that a wife realizes that her husband claims her person, when he knows he has not her heart, she is a slave, not less degraded than any ever bought or sold upon the auction-block; and she entertains to her master the feelings which such a relation must produce. Marriage, to her, becomes the name for all that is debasing and disgusting.
What, then, is she to do? Human law lent its sanctions to ratify her marriage. Note, an equally clear and unmistakable voice within tells her that that marriage is null and void. She appeals to human law to annul it; but it is silent as the tomb. She has prayed in vain for mercy of [the husband in name only] who has taken it upon himself to cherish and protect her, and what remains to her? Either to bow her soul to a pollution too deep for any name, or to disregard the power of human law and a still more cruel public opinion, and leave the home where the shelter for her head must be purchased at the cost of her self-respect.
This is her last resort. But, before this, let her try every argument, every reason, which manhood can comprehend or generosity feel, in behalf of her own rights. Let her show, by appeals to nature and reason, that it is a mistake to suppose that marriage takes from the wife the control of her own person. It is a natural, inalienable right, that was ordained of God before human law was made, and can be annulled by no enactments of men.
If there are children, let her plead to be their true and faithful mother. To this end, let her keep herself pure and undefiled; let their children be a mutual care, and let them have every attention and advantage which they have a right to claim from the authors of their being. A man must be less than human, not to listen to this deep, agonizing petition from the mother of his children.
But if he be less than a man, that wife is bound to fidelity to her own soul, at every cost. She will stand guilty before God for the neglect of her instincts [her own inner soul-direction]; and if there is no alternative but separation or legalized prostitution, then, I say, in the name of God and virtue, let her depart!
I have stated an extreme case, because there are men, or rather, beings who have the name of men, so degraded as to demand a gratification of their passion without love, because the law has given them possession of the person of the individual who bears the name of wife. But, thank God, there are men who deserve the name,—who ask not what the law allows, but who govern themselves by the one only law of the heart.
There are numberless other cases, where affection on either side is wasted by neglect and indifference on the other; but they are all various manifestations of the one great cause — The Absence-of Love; and they all point to one only remedy — Separation; or, at least, suspension of the marriage relation.
Human laws may forbid those who have been disappointed in one alliance from being attracted to others. It is in vain; the pulsations of the heart can never be controlled by such enactments. Though governments forbid the outward expression of it, they cannot prevent the soul from attracting and being attracted. The heart may suffer under a false relation, but its power to love nobly; purely and truly, is not thereby destroyed; and I should utter my protest against all arbitrary restrictions put upon a true love relation.
Yet I am not so blind as to imagine that all the world is ready to act upon the law of spiritual attraction; for, to nine-tenths of human beings, these words have no significance. But … we are not laying down laws for the nation, but defining our ideal of true marriage.
It is a bitter sorrow to find the hope of young love blighted; but that is light, compared to the sting of finding our holiest instincts disregarded in marriage, a deaf ear turned to the agonizing cry of the soul for mercy, and the very core of our hearts wrung by a sense of wrong and outrage.
the depths of misery lying behind a smile
I speak from my knowledge of woman's nature, —her instincts, her demands; and I have heard deep and heart-rending revelations from those the world considers happy. I know full well what depths of misery may lie behind a smile...
lives of quiet desperation
She suffers, in silence, the utter prostitution and ruin of her soul and body. He who should have been the Elixir of Life to her, has become her Death-Potion, which is fast precipitating her into a premature, but longed-for grave.
Such is a picture which may be seen in any neighborhood, among all classes. Why is it that woman so often dates the beginning of her downward course with marriage? Her intellect becomes enfeebled and bewildered; science and literature become less attractive; her social and moral nature becomes inactive, and she disappears from the social circle of which she was the life, not to give life to the still dearer home-circle, for there, too, clouds and darkness hang round about her. Proudly and fondly she gave to her husband all the treasures of her womanhood, and he has used them to her destruction.
But the wife cannot sink alone. The husband, who has cast her down, must fall with her: God hath so decreed. Every abuse of her nature is as great or a greater abuse of his own. The essential element of the marriage relation is oneness, harmony, — harmony in the intellectual, affectional and passional elements of their natures...
there are many in this world who 'serve the Church' only because they don't want to go home
Perhaps the Church, and active works of benevolence, bear evidence of the disappointed hopes which seek an unselfish satisfaction; or, perhaps, from want of inward force, she loses all hope, all aspiration, and all effort, and sinks into the mere household drudge and nursery-maid.
Who is to be held accountable for this wasted life? Not she who has brought heart, mind, youth, strength, high hopes and noble aspirations to the home of her beloved; but he by whose neglect she has failed to become what her natural endowments and previous culture fitted her to be. In associating her life with that of her husband, she has yielded to such claims as must engross her time, occupy her thoughts, and enfeeble her physical powers. But shall such a free gift of herself be the wreck of all her deepest aspirations, dependent as she is, for their fulfilment in her new relation, on the ties of social companionship ?
Her duties in domestic life are well defined, and neglect of them meets unmerciful censure from the world's people. Has the husband, then, no domestic duties, involving the happiness and development of his wife? Did he marry for a housekeeper and a mother to his children, or did he seek companionship for life? In some, a thoughtless neglect, in others, a low estimate of the capabilities of a woman's nature, leads to an entire separation of life and interest between man and wife.
He who loves wisely, as well as deeply, will as generously share with his wife the food of intellectual life, as the daily bread. When he gives her his right hand in marriage, it should be a symbol of the fact that, to her whole nature, he will be a guide, a comfort and a strength, which shall never fail.
But again, I must recur to my home in thee, to renew the assurance that I am speaking from experience, in giving this ideal of what the true husband should be. I am a wife, in all the dignity, power and purity which that name implies. Yet, withal, I have such a sense of rest in thy strength, such respect for thy judgment, and such faith in the love which makes my advancement thy first care…
When I yielded up my soul to thee, my husband, — when I said, into thy keeping I commend my spirit, — the physical person, which is but the outward symbol of that soul, went with it. When love for thee cast out all fear for the safety of my deep spiritual life and health, when placed in thy hands, it also cast out all fear for the safety of my physical life and health. My entire physical, as well as spiritual nature, was entrusted to thy care...
How large a portion of human beings, even in the most civilized and refined nations, are the offspring of sexual intercourse, without love! Ask that man or woman, "Are you the child of Love or Passion? — Did you inherit a full measure of the love-nature from your parents, or only the sensual?"
A true answer is given in the life of each individual; and we are forced to the conclusion, from the history of the race, that the act in which the human being originates is seldom sanctified by pure love and harmony…
Unless she can look her child in the face, and, before God and her own heart, say that it is most dear to her because it is the child of him who made her a mother, she has not the marriage-love which should have blessed her in its conception. The relation of a mother is holy and beautiful beyond the power of words to describe; but it is a relation into which a woman has no right to enter, except by the royal highway of love. It will be observed, in marriage, that those who become mothers under the only holy sanction of maternity, love their children as new representatives of their husbands; while those who give birth to children without love, become selfish and narrow in their love for them as their own offspring.
Editor’s note: Wright is extremely perceptive! How often in life I have noticed that those who are most miserable in their marriages – primarily women - virtually worship their children. They, indeed, become “selfish and narrow” in a distorted and inwardly-focused motherly love which, in reality, they hide in, as meager substitute, as refuge, from a loveless marriage, from husbands who do not truly want them. The question then becomes, how does this affect the children? They are not stupid. They instantly perceive whether there is True Love in the home. And they are damaged by this hypocrisy. Wright’s question is valid, one posed to the children: Did you inherit a full measure of the love-nature from your parents, or only the sensual? See Frederic Myers's important discussion on this.